Amanda Ripley


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Regular People Step Up in North Dakota

26th Mar 2009 posted in Disaster Behavior

North Dakota residents are bracing themselves for a possible 41.2 foot river swell. Fortunately, the people in charge seem to understand the value of regular people.  And regular people are out in force. One volunteer coordinating center had so many volunteers they had to turn people awayAs Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor yesterday:

“North Dakotans are no stranger either to the ideal of neighbors helping neighbors. Through the weekend and early parts of this week, thousands of people—including high school and college students, National Guardsmen, women, and our own Congressman Earl Pomeroy, among many others—have stood shoulder-to-shoulder, filling sandbags to protect Fargo and other cities from the dangers of rising waters. Others have come together to offer shelter to those forced to leave their homes.

As of late last night, Fargo residents and out-of-town volunteers had filled over 1 million sandbags—over 1 million sandbags—and they aren’t stopping. I salute the work of these Americans coming together in common purpose in this time of need. While there is and will be a significant federal role assisting those impacted, the work of the community is the first line of defense.”

With the worst of the flooding yet to come, it’s a waiting game for now.  As Fargo, North Dakota officials planned to pass out evacuation materials Thursday, Mayor Dennis Walaker was feeling pretty good: “Are we confident we’re going to beat this?” Walaker said. “Yes, we are. But we need to have contingency plans in place.”